Back On The Soap Box

16 May

‘I think it’s just a witch hunt now,’ said a woman, leaning over the newspaper rack where my sister and I were browsing the headlines. Before my eyes were three pictures, three well-known faces side by side. Stuart Hall, William Roache and Rolf Harris. Men who have been in famous since before I was born. Men who had been adopted by the British public almost to the level of National Treasures and now all three have been arrested for/accused of rape.

‘After all,’ the woman continued. ‘We’re talking sixty years ago.’

Actually it’s not quite that far back but even so …

‘I hope they’re innocent,’ I said (although Hall had admitted to most of his charges earlier that day) ‘But if they’re not, I hope they get put away.’

A human-rights barrister has commented that the age of consent should be lowered to thirteen to prevent the ‘persecution of old men.’ She has apparently said that child sex abuse crimes are ‘low level misdemeanours.’

Ah. So indecently assaulting a nine-year-old girl (which Hall has admitted to) is a misdemeanour? Silly me, I thought it was a heinous, sick act which scars it’s victim FOREVER. Naughty Mr Hall, don’t do it again.

I know there are shades of grey in all things but if one more woman says, in my hearing, that it was all a long time ago and the girls were probably asking for it I will not be responsible for my response. Funny, I have yet to hear a man make this sort of remark.

Moreover, yet another gang of child abusers has been jailed in this country. Young men this time. Young men who operate in gangs and prey on vulnerable kids and groom them before raping them and selling them into prostitution. The papers are full of tales of how the police missed opportunities to stop these creatures and at least one care home manager has been revealed as careless, to say the least. When a missing girl returned to her care home in a taxi, he refused to pay the fare so she got back in the car and returned to her abusers. Nice one, mate. Having said that, I did work with ‘looked after children’ as they are called. One of the homes I worked in specialised in children with problems arising from childhood abuse and I know from experience that it isn’t an easy job. A child who has been prostituted or raped is not big on trust. A child who has been prostituted or raped is not big on obeying the rules just because one in a long line of care workers says they must. So I can sympathise with that manager. I don’t know all the elements of that situation so I will do him the courtesy of keeping an open mind.

But … To the doctor who examined one of these wounded, traumatised girls whilst simultaneously conducting a phone conversation about his upcoming golfing trip I say shame on you. Shame on you, you heartless ****

During my Safeguarding training, before being let loose on vulnerable kids, I learned that we ALL have a duty of care for children. Yes, I am British and yes, this is a very Britain-centred post but wherever you are reading this, I would say that you too have a duty of care. Look around you. Is there a child near you that needs someone’s/anyone’s help? Is that group of people hurting children? Is there a cellar with unexplained noises coming from it? Has that man across the street really got three young women locked up in his house that he abducted TEN Years ago?

Don’t mind your own business. Don’t look the other way. And, whatever you do, don’t assume that when someone reveals that they were abused five minutes or five months or fifty years ago that they have got over it.


Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Uncategorized


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6 responses to “Back On The Soap Box

  1. jules mcgowan

    May 17, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Fantastic! I hope lots of people read this!

    • Lorraine Gouland

      May 18, 2013 at 2:06 am

      Thanks, Jules. I had some apprehension about this post but not enough to stop me writing it.

  2. Observer 40

    May 19, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I find myself more than a little uncomfortable with your article, and would take you through it a paragraph at a time :-

    Is it just a witch hunt now ? If we are talking about something that happend nearly sixty years ago then I agree with the lady in the news agents, the alleged victim if fourteen or fifteen at the time will be in his/her seventies by now, why choose to bring something up that happend all those years ago. How can the defendant be expected to remember back to an incident that may or may not have happend ? Remember the accused will be even older but at the time was perhaps only a teenager also. Ok Hall has pleaded guilty and may serve time and in the case of the nine year old his conduct was despicable but what good can come of sending an eighty plus man to prison ? His reputation is already shattered he has lost all social standing and I’m sure, now finds himself in isolation. Is the pound of flesh really necessary to some elderly lady all these years later, if so why did she not speak sooner what about her parents were they not also responsible in their duty of care?

    Yes William Roache and Rolf Harris along with Jim Davis, Freddie Star and others might well be described as National Treasures but what of them now ? Their reputations are in ruins their employment is over and they have not yet been convicted of anything !!! Even if proved innocent they have no chance, the great British Public will see to that ,”No smoke without fire ” etc etc.

    Yes get as mad as you care to but it WAS all a long time ago and things were very different then, the sixties was the time of flower power and free love all the youngsters wanted to make love not war. Remember the people referred to above were also young, not dirty old men, but young virile up and coming celebrities of their time living their dreams and as such ,bearing in mind the attitude of the time, fair targets for their adoring fans. It was very hard to tell some thirteen / fourteen year olds from eighteen / twenty year olds. It probably still is !! Perhaps one should make a law that all youngsters should have their dates of birth stamped on their foreheads. And yes this is a man writing this.

    I think it is a major miscarriage of justice that those accused of any crime should have their names published until a court of law has found them guilty !!! And in cases like the above doubly so for the reasons stated !!!! If however they are found guilty then that is another matter.
    It has been argued that by publishing the name others would be encouraged to come forward,well so too will all the cranks and those hopeing for a quick buck from the press or compensation from the civil courts. if some poor alleged victim has kept quiet all these years for fear of not being believed then surely after seeing a successful conviction of her rapist or sexual abuser she / he will feel more confident and sure of a more attentive hearing.

    As to the gang of child abusers the sentences were to short I would have given life on each count to run consecutively.

    Your remarks concerning the doctor I agree and would add that he should be made to go for retraining in bedside manner.

    Great that you have done the safeguarding training you clearly are a rare lady

    Finally I fully agree with your last two lines whole heartily but also keep your view wide
    There is I’m sure more than one man locked up who is innocent.

    • Lorraine Gouland

      May 20, 2013 at 12:18 am

      Mm, food for thought here but you misjudge me if you think your comments would make me mad. This is my blog and I am free to express my opinion here but if I do, then I must accept that others could have a different opinion. That is how it should be, yes?

      I will answer you as fully as I can because the subject, and you, deserve such consideration.
      Firstly, the age of the victims and the abuser is (in my thinking) immaterial.
      Halls’ nine-year-old (at the time) victim is a similar age to me and I can tell you from experience that it never, ever goes away. I’m not talking about a ‘dirty old man’ copping a sly feel, as Alan Bennet claims to have experienced. I’m talking about something much more pernicious. Perhaps, for the victims of these people, the hoo-hah about Jimmy Saville made them realise that a) it wasn’t just them and b) it wasn’t their fault. Sexual abuse isn’t about sex, it’s about power and along with the physical stuff is all the mental/emotional pressure. Grooming is one aspect. ‘No one will believe you’, ‘You made me do it,’ ‘It’s because you wear skimpy clothes,’ etc, etc, is another. In fact the physical side is the least of it, it’s what it does to your mind that scars you. You bury it and get on with life but ta da! the poison seeps out. Trust issues, anxiety, suppressed rage, guilt – they’re all there affecting everything you try to do, even if you deny it to yourself. And those around you are affected whether they know about your abuse or not.
      So, just maybe, when those victims saw the press about Saville et al, they finally realised that they could take back the personal power that had been stolen from them all those years ago. Would I do it, given the option? YES!
      As to the age of the perpetrator, so what? Just because he’s eighty, doesn’t mean he’s stopped abusing. A man ( I say man because it is men in these cases but I know there are vile female abusers out there too. Rosemary West for example.) like that does not accept blame. He does not feel guilty (remember this is my opinion only, though I do have some ‘specialist’ knowledge). And he does not stop. He may not make physical advances but the controlling behaviour doesn’t go away.
      Hall didn’t cough to his crimes through guilt but because he saw no way out and tried to steal back some dignity. Should he go to prison? You might be surprised to learn that I have no strong feelings either way. He is in his eighties. Were he a younger man and still a potential threat then I would say yes but for a man his age? He has been found out and finally his victims can look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘It wasn’t me. I was the innocent party.’ Maybe that’s enough for them. I don’t know, I’m not one of his victims so it’s not for me to say but know this, those victims have suffered a life sentence because of what he did.

      You will notice that I haven’t gone to town on DLT or even John Peel. In the case of the former, I’m unclear what he is being investigated for. I have read that he is accused of groping a woman or women. That, for me, is a greyer area. As a woman doing ‘a man’s job’ I suffered a great deal from unwanted groping but I took it in my stride and moved on. I would not go back and press charges against those men but, again, I am not the woman accusing DLT and I don’t know the facts.
      Before he died, John Peel admitted that he knowingly slept with underage girls whilst in the US. Although it has rather tarnished him in my eyes, I can understand (and have even thought it myself) your point that those were different times, he was young etc, etc. This is not a one-dimensional, black and white topic.

      Whether or not the accused should be named before being convicted is an argument that has rumbled on forever and I don’t know if I have enough knowledge to pontificate on points of law. Suffice it to say that I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I would like to think that each of the men you listed will be investigated thoroughly and if guilty, convicted. If not, they should be restored to their former glory without taint. Sadly, I fear you may be right about the British public’s attitude about no smoke without fire. I was going to cite the case of John Leslie but having looked it up, he has gone on record to say the he did ‘treat women innappropriately’ and so his vanishing into obscurity may not be such a surprise.

      Finally, I would like to say that, yes, many innocent men have been locked up. I presume you mean as a result of malicious accusations of abuse or paedophilia. Personally, I hold a deep enmity against anyone who makes that sort of false allegation. I also am highly critical of anyone of any age who bandies around terms such as paedophile without stopping to think of the harm they could be doing to a possibly innocent person.

      Sorry this reply is soooo long but it is a very serious subject and I respect your point of view enough to take it seriously. Thank you for your comment and giving me the chance to clarify some of my opinions.

  3. Observer 40

    May 20, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Well, we both managed to air our thoughts. Thank you for your answer. To quote the famous word smith who’s name I can’t bring to mind, ” I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ”
    I’m going to sit and relax now and think about dogs on bungee ropes and feline master criminals.
    I shall be constantly checking in to the wonky garden shed notice board awaiting the next word picture, as I’m sure will your army of faithful Sheddies.

    • Lorraine Gouland

      May 20, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      Sheddies? That is wonderful thank you! I love the idea of Sheddies. It’s almost as good as Trekkies or something.


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